Seeing the terrible devastation of parts of Abaco and Grand Bahama in the wake of Hurricane Dorian, has sadly reminded of my work in Mississippi with my New Urbanist colleagues shortly after Katrina. Since our efforts there, much has been learned about recovery and rebuilding after natural disasters. Indeed, the work began at the charrette has gone on to evolve into emergency housing as well as also being at the forefront of the tiny home movement.
I am republishing the following essay, which I wrote after returning from the Mississippi Renewal Forum. At the time I struggled to put into words what I had seen and experienced, as I know so many will now again. My heart is with them as is my hope that some of what we learned then can help now.
Why do we choose to make our buildings look one way and not another? How should our buildings look? Two different but related questions, the answers to which are many and difficult to tease apart, for architecture operates on many levels.
Today, many who regard themselves as classicists all
too often answer “how should our buildings look” with a resounding: classically
correct! This is understandable as 21st century classicism is still
operating in recovery mode. The lacuna of what we simplistically call modernism
nearly broke the chain of tradition preceding it. In this regard, we are not
unlike our Renaissance predecessors.
Late this summer, I was pleased to spend an afternoon with Spencer Campbell of 5280 Magazine, touring him around the city and looking at examples of new residential designs, discussing their positive or negative impact on the public realm.
His article is now out, and I am so pleased that 5280 Home is taking on the issue of design quality in Denver. To read the article, click here.
Next week, I am honored to be presenting a lecture at the Seminario Internacional Arquitectura y Humanismo being held at the Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de la Universidad Politécnica de Madrid in conjunction with the Premio Rafael Manzano Martos. I will be presenting the rationale and work of our new center, CARTA, and my thoughts on the role of place, particularly in the American West. An excerpt from the catalog accompanying the symposium follows the break below, the full text of which may be downloaded by clicking HERE.
Denver’s Larimer Square.
As America rebounds from the Great Recession of 2008, cities such as Denver, Seattle, and Portland are experiencing rapid growth, in both city-center infill projects and expanding suburban development. This building boom, driven as much by demand for new housing and commercial space as it is by capitalism, is unfortunately characterized by buildings that all too often lack durability, sustainability, and beauty. Many of the buildings being built, especially in historic neighborhoods, have nothing in common with their contexts.
Franck’s lecture looked at various aspects of the building crafts today, including the important role of craft traditions in enhancing the character of a place, contributing to robust local economies, and preserving and advancing knowledge of best practices. She also discussed the need for a greater focus on building crafts in architectural education, an issue the Contemporary Traditional Architecture Initiatives includes in its mission.
The lecture, organized by the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art Tennessee Chapter, concluded a year-long focus by the chapter on traditional building crafts. Following the lecture, attendees discussed ways to advance the understanding and practice of the art of craft today, including taking lessons from successful cultural shifts, such as the increased acceptance of the importance of local foods to community health and the rise of the ‘maker movement,’ or do-it-yourself, culture.
Here below are links to different declarations, charters, manifestos and short treatises about modern classical and traditional architecture. Please advise me of others and I will add them to this list.
“A place is not a place until people have been born in it, have grown up in it, lived in it, known it, died in it – have both experienced and shaped it, as individuals, families, neighborhoods, and communities, over more than one generation.”– Wallace Stegner, The Sense of Place, 1992
Through my windshield I watch the sinuous River Road fade into gray as a summer storm lets loose its rains on waving fields of sugar cane. Here in southern Louisiana, driving between Laura and Oak Alley plantations on a sultry August afternoon, I am reminded of how powerful and precious place is to who we are and how we live.
In early April, the National Capital Planning Commission will likely review Frank Gehry’s design for the Eisenhower Memorial to be built in Washington, D.C. Criticism after criticism has been leveled at the design, its urban impact, durability, and symbolism. There are few things we build of greater import than our civic memorials, for they record our history and values and transmit them to future generations. With this in mind, please review the information below and make your opinion known by writing to the following agencies.
Lecture delivered at the University of Notre Dame’s conference: From Vernacular to Classical: The Perpetual Modernity of Palladio, June 10-12, 2011
Dean Lykoudis, faculty, alumni, students, and colleagues it is a pleasure to be back at Notre Dame for this remarkable conference and exhibition. I offer my sincere thanks to the School of Architecture and Lucien for organizing the conference, to Lucien and Ali for their thoughtful and thought-provoking New Palladians, to the RIBA for their inspirational exhibit celebrating 500 years of Palladio, to Calder Loth for his inimitable contributions to Palladio’s Transatlantic journey, and last to my fellow Institute of Classical Architecture & Art trustee, Anne Kriken Mann, for ensuring that the Palladio made it to America.
Reflecting upon the conference theme of the “Perpetual Modernity of Palladio,” I began to question Palladio’s value today. What lessons can Palladio teach us?
Portrait of Palladio (1574, G.B. Maganza)
“Regina Virtus,” frontispiece for I Quattro Libri (1570, A. Palladio)